PNG FOREST OFFICIAL CHARGED IN LOGGING CONTROVERSY

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Aug. 8) -
Controversial logging company Concord Pacific is embroiled in the charges
leveled against suspended managing director of National Forest Services David
Nelson.

Two of the eight charges laid against Nelson by Forest Minister
Patrick Pruaitch on Monday were:

Failure to follow board instructions on the deed of settlement
between the Forest Board and Concorde Pacific on Kiunga-Aiambak Timber Lease;
and failure to follow board instructions by not engaging lawyers to contest
a court injunction obtained by Concorde Pacific regarding the lease. 

The deed of settlement was signed between Nelson and Concorde
Pacific early this year and prevented the government from taking action against
the company. The government also had to pay the company K150,000 as out-of-court
settlement.

Prior to that, the NFA board had decided to hire private law
firm to contest a court injunction taken by the company in 1999 that prevented
the government from taking action against its logging operations in the Western
province. 

However, Nelson’s alleged inaction on the matter resulted in
the second charge.

Other charges alleged that:

Nelson was in receipt of illegal and improper allowances and
benefits in excess of his contract of employment under the Salaries and
Remuneration Commission Act soon after his most recent re-appointment ordered by
the National Court.

A payment of K110,000 to Jerowai Lawyers was for his personal
legal fees that the NFA says is an improper payment. Nelson however argues that
this was proper as ordered by the National Court when it reinstated him.

Nelson was also charged for "illegal and improper"
payment to an unregistered security company, Bewa Security Services, for his
personal security.

He sanctioned an improper authorization of contract gratuity to
a Nanadai Asi, who is director of corporate services of NFS.

Approving an illegal and improper payment to a Kilian Pukaikia;
and 

Granting an unlawful extension of the Pasismanua LFA to a
de-registered operator.

Pruaitch suspended Nelson on Monday and issued a circular to all
staff on Tuesday. He acted on the advice of NFA board chaired by National
Planning Secretary Valentine Kambori.

The National Court has reinstated Nelson only a month ago
following his successful appeal against an earlier suspension.

In the meantime, the head of the National Forest College in Lae,
Terry Wara, has been appointed acting managing director of NFS. 

Wara took over office yesterday and held his fast staff meeting
in the morning asking them to continue their work and not to be disturbed by the
current controversy.

August 8, 2003

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/ 

 

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